Sat, Aug 04, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Beijing’s actions say more than its words

By Masao Sun 孫國祥

After taking office in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has launched several charm offensives aimed at Taiwan, and his slogans about the two sides of the Taiwan Strait being a close family — or two brothers with a shared destiny whose blood is thicker than water — are still ringing in the ears of Taiwanese.

However, in the twinkling of an eye, Xi then sent Chinese fighter jets and warships to conduct drills that circled the nation and took away diplomatic allies, encroaching on the nation’s sovereignty and making every effort to suppress it, even interfering with Taichung’s right to host next year’s East Asian Youth Games.

Led by Xi, the Chinese leadership not only adopts carrot-and-stick tactics against Taiwan, it also says one thing and does another at home and abroad.

When Xi first took office, he used the excuse of fighting corruption to eliminate his political rivals and consolidate his power.

He then said that he was realizing “the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” by abolishing presidential term limits and expanding his authoritarian rule.

He even started a personality cult, breaking away from the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) principle of having a centralized collective leadership and its doctrine of purging the party of the worship of individuals.

International relations experts often portray Xi’s foreign policy using the word “assertiveness,” saying his leadership style is to take the initiative by striking first.

Ostensibly, his “Chinese dream” is intended to build a wealthy, strong and civilized modern power, but he actually wants China to resume its historical position as the dominant power in Asia and create a modern tribute system.

Xi has repeatedly told the international community that China would never seek hegemony or engage in expansionism, but often also says that China’s diplomacy should display clear Chinese characteristics, and vows to play a more active role in global affairs, help define international rules and take part in global governance.

China has proposed various multinational economic and trade cooperation initiatives to boost its influence in international politics through economic means.

For example, the goal of the Belt and Road Initiative is to expand China’s influence all the way to Europe through South Asia and West Asia.

The establishment of international financial institutions, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund, is also a challenge to the international financial order and establishes new rules.

Moreover, Beijing in 2009 claimed that the South China Sea is a core Chinese interest, despite its call for “shelving disputes for joint development” in the region.

It has militarized islands and reefs in the area through large-scale construction since 2014, using a fait accompli strategy to change the “status quo” through maritime law enforcement, resource exploration and military exercises.

In cross-strait relations and international politics, Taiwan and the international community should pay more attention to what China does than what it says, because the examples of the CCP saying one thing and doing another are numerous.

China is using its influence to bully Taiwan and it wants to use “strategic clashes” to fight the push for independence and achieve strategic attrition to create a new “status quo” that will promote unification.

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